What led to the commitment on intercultural competence?
A: GNJ’s commitment to Intercultural competency is rooted in our United Methodist beliefs in the sacred worth of all people and Jesus’ call to make disciples of all nations. Reclaiming these beliefs proactively responds to the increasingly racially divided context in which we live and prepares spiritual leaders to lead congregations and communities as they “act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).
Will all GNJ conference staff and elected leadership undergo intercultural competency training?
A: Yes. Intercultural competency will require a deep and systemic change within GNJ. To facilitate this change and create long-term sustainability, all staff will participate in intercultural competency training. Resourcing GNJ staff with cultural competency training is critical to living out our mission to equip transformational spiritual leaders for the transformation of the world. We recognize that the success of this mission is directly tied to our ability to communicate, equip and engage laity and clergy of a myriad of cultural backgrounds and experiences.
Will laity and clergy receive intercultural competency training?
A: Yes. GNJ is partnering with the General Commission on Race and Religion of the United Methodist Church to provide intercultural competency training for laity and clergy. This resourcing will not be programmatic but systematic: wherein intercultural competency principles will be integrated across our entire system of resources rather than stand-alone events. This approach of wide-scale integration will facilitate systemic change and deep understanding.
What are the benefits of hosting pulpit exchanges as a strategy to develop intercultural competence in GNJ clergy?
A: Pulpit exchanges are the temporary “swapping” of pulpits between cross-racial clergy leaders. Pulpit exchanges have their roots in the civil-rights movement as Caucasian and African-American pastors shared pulpits to combat “the most segregated hour in America: Sunday at 11:00 a.m.” and call on the prophetic witness of the church to seek justice and reconciliation. These exchanges create opportunity for bridge-building between diverse peoples, increased cultural literacy and understanding and newfound missional partnerships and impact.
The United Methodist Church of Greater New Jersey will facilitate these exchanges but also encourages local congregations to begin engaging one another as they follow the direction of the Holy Spirit.
My congregations’ leadership would benefit from intercultural competency resourcing now, what are my next steps?
A: While it will take some time for the Resource Team to modify and incorporate intercultural competence elements to the different resources currently being offer by GNJ, you can benefit from a resource provided by the General Commission on Race and Religion – Vital Conversation Series. The Vital Conversations project creates a framework for these important conversations with the help of insightful stories, practical resources, and personal commentaries, sharing what is learned so that United Methodists may engage in the work of transforming the church and the world. The entire series may be found here: http://www.gcorr.org/vital-conversation-resources/